Manny Furtado didn’t record a win in his debut behind the Lakehead Thunderwolves bench.
But the first-year men’s basketball coach isn’t going to lose much sleep about the 83-78 loss to the visiting University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
“This is about setting the tone and culture for us,” said Furtado, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the national champion Carleton Ravens.
“Am I happy that we lost? No. In saying that, there are a lot of good things we can build on. There’s a lot we’ve got to correct. Every day is going to be a challenge and we have to get better and we’ve got to come in focused and ready to play.”
The banged up Thunderwolves will take on the Bulldogs three times in a 24-hour span, with two more scrimmages, as the matches are being touted slated for Saturday at the Thunderdome, the first at 11 a.m., the second at 4 p.m.
And although it wasn’t Furtado, but his predecessor Scott Morrison, who set up the late August encounters, he was only too happy to put his squad through the ringer this early in the school season.
“We’re trying to simulate what our regular season is going to potentially be like with the back-to-back,” he said.
His first look showed him a pair of freshmen guards he’s sees bright futures for in Hamilton’s Ryan Doornick and Brampton, Ont’s Addy Ogunye.
“They shot the ball pretty well and did some good things offensively,” said Furtado, all about equal opportunity playing time on Friday night.
Doornick finished in double-digits, with 12, four behind team leader Anthony McIntosh, who had 16. Dwayne Harvey had 14.
“Our posts, I thought they did a pretty good job clearing the boards and doing that kind of stuff. But defensively as a whole we need to clean up and that’s going to be our focus all year. Defensively, giving up 83 points, with a 35-second shot clock, is kind of a lot of points.”
Lakehead trailed by one through three quarters, but after UMD’s Jake Wilson broke a 62-62 tie with a three-pointer early in the fourth, the Wolves couldn’t claw any closer, though kept it close even after the Huskies twice opened seven-point gaps.
With 90 seconds to go fifth-year guard Harvey fed rookie forward Michael Poirier with the alley-oop to cut UMD’s lead to four. Then Anthony McIntosh hit one of two from the line to pull LU to within three.
Down three with 43 seconds to go, Alex Robichaud knocked the ball loose, but couldn’t save it from going out of bounds and the Huskies made good on the penalty free throws they were awarded to put the game away.
Like his coach, Robichaud isn’t planning on dwelling long on the loss – not that he’s got much time before the two teams tangle again.
It was just good to get out on the court again.
“The first couple of games is always a learning process. We’ve got a lot of new guys this year and a new coach, of course,” said Robichaud, the former Superior Collegiate high school star in his third season at Lakehead.
But he does a great job putting us in a position to be successful and we’ve just got to get out there and play hard, and that’s pretty much all we can do.”
Beyond the arc: The Wolves were missing a pair of guards projected as potential starters. Henry Tan (knee) is expected back by the start of the regular season, as is Jamar Coke. Forward Ryan Thomson, who didn’t play last year recovering from knee surgery, said he doesn’t expect to suit up at all this weekend … Brett Ervin led UMD with a game-high 24 points.
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